The Archive, Cape Town – A Bugatti Veyron on my one side. On my other side are a couple of semi-formally dressed steam cats from all walks of life. There is, no doubt, a hint of mischief in the air. And perhaps me knowing what's on the boil and my recently reignited interest in the Countach Cannonball run and the antics of the journalist named Brock Yates who, just like then, gave little regard to the establishment and wanted to go out, have fun and drive. Originally started from the East to the West coast of the US. Sure, times have changed a lot, and even cannonball run has all but disappeared into the motoring rebellion history, but the legend lives on, and one man has taken that legend and made it his own. His name is Ross Crichton. The banker turned car rally runner and the man behind the Cape 1000. Cape for, well, it's in the Western Cape where the pothole per capita ratio is 0:0 (ideal for any cars) and '1000' for 1000 miles through some of the country's most iconic roads. Add to that the essence of a timed rally and that hint of competition. With that, you're quickly concluding that this will be quite the fun event, now in its second year running and promptly gathering momentum. This is the Cape 1000, and TopGear SA is the official media partner.
In attendance at the media launch event of the forthcoming epic roadtrip is Michelle Hambly Grobler, a Porsche collector and winner of last year's spirit award on the rally. Also in the crowd and in somewhat incognito mode, is the owner of the Bugatti Veyron, who will be participating in this year's run. The Bugatti, no doubt the crown of the jewel for some, and a car I have to this point knew existed but had never set my eyes on. Most of the time, I'm shown around the treasure trove of luxury vehicles at the Archive. I feel slightly dirty. An original 996 GT3 RS with less than 50 000 km on the clock has my full attention when not gawking over the Bugatti. Amongst the plenty of cars parked, there are sure to be a few belonging to the group who will be on the rally. A Pagoda to my side belonging to a certain celebrity who I dare mention whispers to my gracious host, Alex, another devoted petrolhead and someone who's been trying to get me to drive his Porsche Cayman GT4 for a while now. I shudder to think of why I haven't yet. Ah, yes, commitments…That's it! Alas, the point we're getting to here is this, and so will the rally be, a genuine common weave of kindred travellers. If this kick-off event is anything to go by, the rally will surely be a proper jol.
The route promises to thrill drivers and anyone who ventures out to spectate. So grab those cameras. Starting from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, the route heads towards Hermanus along Rooiels drive and then onto George before heading back to Franschhoek and then back to the Waterfront. Over the four days of running, 60% will be touring, and 40% will be timed to ensure the competition remains, let's say, competitive. The limited entry list of 60 cars was quickly lapped up, including some knee-weakening motoring legends like the 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, one of five 1935 Bentley "Blue Train'', a 1973 Ferrari Daytona GTB 4, a 1993 Lamborghini Diablo and, as earlier mentioned, a super-rare 2008 Bugatti Veyron. The blend of classes spans decades of technological and design greats from the Tribute Class (1927 to 1957) models, to classics up until 1976. Meanwhile, the Modern Classics (1977 to 1996) will also draw throngs of participants, while the Sports Class includes cars from 1997 to present date. What else could be there, I ponder to myself?
The group of drivers head upstairs to be briefed by route organiser and legendary racing car driver Dave Alexander, and I grab Ross Crichton, the brains behind the rally and one that prefers to keep a low profile. He shares the background story of how everything came to be with great gusto. Even before the start of what the Cape 1000 has become today, regaled tales of how he wanted to start a charity benefiting event rally, which culminated back in 2003 under the Cannonball Run Africa banner. The rally winner that year was driving a Nissan Xtrail. The second year was a VW Kombi. Hardly the glamourous lineup you see today, but a journey Ross has been hard at work on.Arthur Abraham, the brainchild behind the Kreepy Krauly March 83G Group C car that Sarel vd Merwe and Graeme Duxbury raced then, encouraged Ross to turn to Sports Cars—tales from the crypt a sign of the stories that will come from this. I continue scratching around for my ticket to join. Sure, it must be there somewhere. (Your subtle pleads have been noted, Brent - Ed).
For those keen, there’s a registration day at the Silo District at the V&A Waterfront on Sunday, 19 March 2023 and everyone is urged to come visit. See you there!
Words: Brent van der Schyff
Images: The Archive